Los Angeles, California -
Los Angeles, CA – The dark days of fall and winter can also trigger dark moods, which may indicate a form of depression known as Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). During December, which is SAD Awareness Month, Muse Treatment urges anyone suffering from this disorder to be aware of the dangers posed by trying to drink or drug it away – a very real risk for as many as 20% of people experiencing the condition.
Muse Treatment works with people experiencing drug and alcohol addiction and related emotional and psychological disorders. This December, they join numerous mental health experts in offering tips for coping with Seasonal Affective Disorder – including seeking professional help.
We all feel a little blue sometimes in winter when cold, dark weather often keeps us inside when we want to get outside to some physical or social activity. But SAD is far more serious. It’s a recognized form of depression that tends to occur with seasonal reductions in sunlight, from late fall/early winter until early to late spring. It is believed that the loss of sunlight causes changes in the brain’s chemistry.
According to the American Psychiatric Association, about 5% of U.S. adults suffer from SAD and usually experience it about 40% of the year; not surprisingly, it occurs less often in areas that get more sunlight in the winter. For example, one study found that fewer than 2% of people living in Florida experience SAD, compared to almost 10% of those living in New Hampshire.
The link between darkness and mood disorders may have to do with serotonin, Vitamin D and melatonin. Reduced sunlight means a reduction in serotonin, the neurotransmitter believed to contribute to feelings of well-being and happiness. Vitamin D is also reduced with less sunlight. With more darkness comes increased melatonin, which can cause oversleeping and fatigue.
For people with Seasonal Affective Disorder, substance abuse poses a real risk. About 20% of those who suffer from anxiety or another mood disorder, including SAD, also experience substance abuse, according to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America. In addition, the National Institute on Drug Abuse estimates that as many as half of those struggling with a mental health disorder will also experience a substance use disorder at some point in their lives.
Experts believe a lack of energy may cause some SAD sufferers to turn to stimulants, while others seek to relieve the pain of their depression with alcohol or drugs like opioids.
When this occurs, it is imperative to receive treatment for both disorders together. If only the addiction is treated, the unresolved depression may trigger a relapse to substance abuse.
Treatment may include cognitive behavioral therapy, which helps change harmful thoughts, beliefs, and behaviors into more positive ones. This approach is also used for conditions including trauma-related disorders, anxiety and substance use disorders.
Experts recommend multiple strategies for coping with Seasonal Affective Disorder. They recommend getting outside and trying to get more natural sunlight. While inside during the day, be sure to open curtains and blinds to let in as much light as possible. Eat a balanced diet high in vegetables, fruits, and fish all year long. Some may want to ask their physician whether they should take a Vitamin D supplement. Exercise is also beneficial for individuals with SAD. Spending time with others rather than withdrawing from depression is critical.
Anyone tempted to use drugs or alcohol, thinking it will help to feel better – or for anyone already self-medicating, it’s important to seek professional addiction treatment help immediately.
For more information on dealing with substance abuse in combination with SAD or any other mental health condition, visit Los Angeles' #1 alcohol & drug rehab center Muse Treatment or call 800-426-1818.
Muse Treatment is the #1 addiction treatment center in Los Angeles, California for alcohol, prescription and drug rehab as well as detox.
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